This fantastic dish was inspired by our LA day trip earlier this year. Andrew and I went to a wonderful Lebanese restaurant, Open Sesame, and were completely blown away! The whole meal was to-die-for, but the Lebanese potatoes were the show-stopping plate.
The potatoes were so good that when we came home, I immediately started trying to figure out what the secret was to the amazing texture and bite of each potato. It took me a few nights of intense problem solving, and then just before bed one night, I finally had it! The potatoes must have been twice fried.
And if those amazing Open Sesame potatoes were not twice fried, well, that’s ok, because the Lebanese potatoes I created at home with a twice-frying process are just as amazing—if I do say so myself! And you can enjoy them at home in your pajamas rather than going out. Win-win!
Twice frying the potatoes gives each potato piece a golden, crisp exterior, while keeping the inside of the potato totally creamy. It takes a little more time than frying only once, but OH MY GOSH the result is well worth it! They probably eat twice-fried potatoes in heaven.
To make a meal out of these potatoes, I paired them with some fried chickpeas, and served them over a bed of spinach with a Lebanese “salsa” I created drizzled over the top. This salsa is so unique! The mint in the salsa creates such a beautiful flavor profile with the rest of the herbs and spices.
A few notes:
This meal is completely vegan if you don’t sprinkle fresh feta over everything at the end.
If you aren’t going for vegan, I highly recommend the fresh feta! It is just such a fantastic addition to this dish. And by fresh feta, I mean buy a block of feta cheese and crumple it to pieces yourself—don’t buy the feta that has already been crumpled and put in a little container. Remember, cheese will always taste better when you grate, grind, or crumple it yourself!!!
I use crushed Aleppo pepper in the Lebanese salsa. I ordered my Aleppo pepper from Amazon because I wanted a really authentic pepper from Lebanese cuisine in this salsa. But Aleppo pepper can be a trickier ingredient to find in stores. If you don’t have Aleppo pepper, you could also substitute standard chili pepper flakes, and it would still be a super delicious salsa. But if you can, use Aleppo pepper flakes for a traditional Lebanese kick to this salsa!
I prefer to use Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe, but really whatever white potato you have on hand will be tasty.
If you finish the potatoes before the chickpeas and salsa are ready, just place a cooking sheet with the potatoes on it in the oven. Warm the potatoes up for about 5 minutes at 375 degrees, and both the potatoes and chickpeas will be warm when served!
Lastly, you are really going to want a fryer skimmer for the potatoes! Any other tool will not work as well. You could use a slotted spoon in a pinch, but the nice thing about a fryer skimmer is you can get more potatoes in the hot oil faster, and since this tool has such a long stem, you keep your hands and arms away from that hot oil! Always smart! Here is my favorite fryer skimmer. Definitely a handy kitchen tool!
Ok, now go make these amazing Lebanese potatoes and salsa! If you are anything like me, there won’t be any leftovers. (:
Lebanese Potatoes & Salsa with Chickpeas
For the potatoes:
- 1 quart oil, plus more for the second fry
- 2-2 ½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced to 1 inch pieces
- Sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling
For the chickpeas:
- 2 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the salsa:
- ½ cup cilantro, diced
- ¼ cup parsley, diced
- 2 Tbsp mint, diced
- ¼ medium sized red onion, minced
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp Aleppo pepper, or chili pepper flakes
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Feta cheese, for sprinkling
- Spinach or greens of choice
Prepare the oil
- Heat 1 quart oil in a large, deep pot on high heat for 3-5 minutes. You know the oil is hot enough when it looks like it is separating, so to speak: there will be little streaks running through the oil in the pot.
Fry the potatoes: the first fry
- Now turn the heat down to medium. You really really need to invest in a fryer skimmer for this! In my experience, no other tool will do. Fill your fryer skimmer with potato pieces, and gently lower the potatoes into the hot oil.
- Load your skimmer with potatoes once more, and lower this second scoop of potatoes into the hot oil as well. The potatoes should make the oil bubble.
- Fry the potatoes in the oil for 5-7 minutes, until they are a light golden color. Stir VERY CAREFULLY with your skimmer every so often to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of your pan.
- After 5-7 minutes, use your skimmer to take all the potatoes out of the oil. Set the fried potatoes aside, making sure that they are spread out and not on top of each other. I recommend spreading them out on a large baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- Now repeat the frying process with the rest of your raw potato pieces. It will depend on the size of your pot, but it generally takes me 3 batches to fry all of the potatoes.
Bring the potatoes to room temperature
- Once all of your potato pieces have been fried and spread out to cool, turn off the heat under your pot, and let the potatoes cool down COMPLETELTY. Allow them to rest for at least a half hour. Don’t throw out your oil! You will use it again for the second fry.
- After a half hour, heat up that oil again! Add about ½ cup more oil to the pot to make up for what was lost during the first fry. Heat the oil over high heat for 3 minutes.
Fry the potatoes: the second fry
- Load your fryer skimmer with potatoes, and lower the scoop of potatoes into the hot oil. Load your skimmer with potatoes again, and lower a second scoop into the hot oil. Each potato will be fried a second time.
- After about 3 minutes, the potatoes will turn a golden brown, and may rise to the top of the oil. Once they turn golden brown, the potatoes are done! Scoop them out with your skimmer, and place them back on the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat this second fry process with all of the potato pieces.
- Once all of the potato pieces have been fried a second time, and are spread out on your cooking sheet, sprinkle a little sea salt or fleur de sel over them. Your potatoes are done!
Cook the chickpeas
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet or frying pan. Add the chickpeas, salt, and pepper, and stir.
- Fry the chickpeas in the pan for 15 minutes over medium heat, or until they have browned and the liquid in the pan is mostly gone. If the chickpeas start popping and going crazy, turn the heat down to medium low.
- Flip the chickpeas every five minutes or so to keep them from sticking to the pan, and to give different sides of each chickpea a chance to brown in the pan. Once each chickpea has browned, they are done!
Make the salsa
- For the salsa, simply combine everything in a medium sized bowl. Whisk everything together with a fork, and adjust seasonings to taste.
- I love to serve these Lebanese potatoes and the chickpeas over a bed of greens, with the Lebanese salsa drizzled over the top, and garnished with some fresh feta. YUM!!!!!